7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: DC Relaunch Beats Marvel: The movies based on Marvel comic-book heroes (Thor, Captain America) might have bested their DC Comics-inspired rival (Green Lantern) at the box office in 2011, but DC can claim one major victory. The Warner Bros.-owned publisher's gamble to relaunch its entire line of comics with 52 new series has hit a home run, outselling Marvel books since the reboot went wide in September. The "New 52" also helped reverse a four-year industry trend of downward sales, albeit with overall sales growth of just 1 percent to 2 percent. According to DC, its top books were Justice League no. 1, which has shipped 361,138 copies since its August launch, Batman no. 1 (262,379) and Action Comics no. 1 (250,898). Marvel's best-selling 2011 comic was Ultimate Spider-Man no. 160, which featured the death of the hero and shipped 159,355 copies in June. Amazing Spider-Man no. 583 (co-starring President Obama) from 2009 is still the biggest book of the past decade, shipping 530,500 issues. These numbers are a far cry from the peak days of the early 1990s, when Marvel's X-Men relaunch shipped more than 8 million copies in its first month -- the best debut in comics history. Back then, at least a dozen books could be counted on to sell more than 100,000 issues a month; in recent years, perhaps two titles would cross that threshold. DC's 2011 success coincides with its strong push into digital. All issues of the New 52 debuted in digital formats the same day they hit stores, and industry observers believe downloads have been strong. (In November, Marvel followed DC in adopting same-day digital sales.) Marvel's successful 2000 update of its core characters shaped the movie versions of Spider-Man, Captain America and The Avengers. For DC, the relaunch was a similar attempt to brush the dust off its heroes, and it could boost in-development projects at Warners like Justice League and influence the future of Batman, Superman and Flash. -- Borys Kit and Andy Lewis
Trump Expands Celebrity Apprentice
NBC's Celebrity Apprentice returns Feb. 12 for its fifth cycle -- and 12th overall in The Apprentice franchise -- upping the number of contestants (to 18) and episodes (to 15). "It's hard to top the past few seasons, but we think we've done it," Donald Trump tells THR of his new cast. "It's amazing the abuse they take and the kind of work they put in." -- Lesley Goldberg
- Former American Idol Clay Aiken (The National Inclusion Project)
- Retired race car driver Michael Andretti (Racing for Cancer)
- Talk show host Adam Carolla (Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters)
- Actress Tia Carrere (After-School All-Stars)
- Actor/bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno (Muscular Dystrophy Association)
- Singer Debbie Gibson (Children International)
- Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Giudice (The NephCure Foundation)
- Growing Up Gotti's Victoria Gotti (Association to Benefit Children)
- Actor/TV personality Arsenio Hall (Magic Johnson Foundation)
- Magician/TV personality Penn Jillette (Opportunity Village)
- Comedian Lisa Lampanelli (Gay Men's Health Crisis)
- Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza (Latino Commission on AIDS)
- Singer/actress/model Aubrey O'Day (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
- Former Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider (March of Dimes/Bikers for Babies)
- Star Trek's George Takei (Japanese American National Museum)
- American Chopper's Paul Teutul Sr. (Make-A-Wish Foundation)
- Model/actress Cheryl Tiegs (Farrah Fawcett Foundation)
- Model/actress Patricia Velasquez (Wayuu Taya Foundation)
Alan Taylor (UTA), known for directing episodes of HBO's Game of Thrones, has received an offer to helm Marvel's Thor 2. Taylor would replace Patty Jenkins, who left the project.
Harrison Ford (UTA, Ziffren Brittenham) and Abigail Breslin (ICM, Untitled, Lichter Grossman) have joined Ender's Game, the Summit/OddLot sci-fi adaptation of the novel by Orson Scott Card. Asa Butterfield (Hugo) stars. Gavin Hood wrote the script and is directing.
Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American and U.K. rights to Woody Allen's next film, Nero Fiddled. It will be Allen's fifth feature to be released by SPC. Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg lead an ensemble cast in the Rome-set story.
Leah Rachel (WME, Anonymous, Bloom Hergott) has sold the original script The Young, the Hot, and the Bothered to Mandate Pictures. Dan Jinks (Milk, American Beauty) is producing the coming-of-age comedy. Anonymous is co-producing.
British actor James Frain (APA, Untitled), who recently recurred as a vampire on HBO's True Blood, has joined Disney's The Lone Ranger. Johnny Depp toplines the Gore Verbinski-directed and Jerry Bruckheimer-produced tentpole, which begins production in February.
Zeitgeist Films has acquired Jennifer Baichwal's Payback, a documentary about how debt influences relationships, societies and cultures around the world. It will premiere in competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
Showtime has picked up a script based on the hit Australian film Animal Kingdom, with Shameless' John Wells attached as an executive producer. The hourlong drama about a family of criminals will be written by Wells' Southland co-EP/writer Jonathan Lisco and executive produced by Wells, Andrew Stearn and the film's David Michod and Liz Watts.
WE TV has ordered Tamar & Vince, a spinoff revolving around Tamar Braxton, the youngest sister from Braxton Family Values, and her husband, Vince.
Dick Clark Productions is reviving hidden-camera series Bloopers as a weekly syndicated show set to bow in 2012.
USA will air an interview special, Out of Character With Krista Smith, on Jan. 11 as the cable network dips its toe into late-night.
Second-season pickups: AMC has renewed Western drama Hell on Wheels, HBO has picked up dark comedy Enlightened, Syfy has renewed docudrama Paranormal Witness and MTV is bringing back unscripted pair FriendZone and The Substitute.
SAG has extended the contract of executive director David White through February 2014.